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Clashes, bomb blast kill sixteen

world Updated: Mar 02, 2008 17:58 IST
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Tamil separatists set off a roadside bomb Sunday in northern Sri Lanka, killing a government soldier, while clashes elsewhere in the region killed 15 rebels, the military said on Sunday.

The rebels exploded the roadside bomb on Sunday in northern Vavuniya district, killing a soldier, the military said in a statement. Separate clashes near rebel-controlled territory in northern Jaffna and Vavuniya districts Saturday killed 15 guerrillas, the statement said.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan denied the military's claims. "This is the usual misinformation from the Sri Lankan side," he said by telephone from the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi. It is not possible to independently verify details provided by either side because the journalists are not allowed in the conflict zone. The two sides often exaggerate casualty numbers for the other side and underplay their own losses.

The fighting is part of the government's campaign to crush the rebels and dismantle their de facto administration in the north. Tamil Tiger rebels have fought the since 1983 to create an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's ethnic minority Tamils after decades of discrimination by governments controlled by majority Sinhalese.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.